Everything reminds me of ghosts today. The oval clefts in the lawn where a stone- paver walkway used to be, the undersides
of poplar leaves, white as vapor clouds, the translucent skin of Chinese lantern seeds-- orbs that light the way for the souls
of the dead, in Japanese lore. On my chest, the ghost of my chemo port, a red scar in the shape of a lobster claw or a Y
bowed by an ethereal wind. But it’s not the dead haunting me. It’s the living. Mostly me. Guilt for having passed
through the eye of the cancer needle. The sun traces an arch overhead, an opening in the wall of my dark night.
I’m determined not to look back, though even now, like Lot’s wife, I can feel the salt begin to lick my skin.
is what my grandfather called me, teasing. Don’t, my grandmother would scold, call her that. But I could tell he said it with pride.
Soon, chemo will start. My cranium will turn smooth as henfruit. Egghead, once again. Of course, my grandfather never meant the shell, only the dollop of sunshine and the fury of creation within. And then there’s the egg’s namesake, oval, its O the perfect evocation of astonishment that some new thing is about to begin.
-- Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, The Patience of Metal (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist), and Like Some Bookie God. Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, including Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, and Bellingham Review, as well as in several anthologies. Her published poems are currently being sold individually in Chicago in two repurposed toy-vending machines, the proceeds of which are donated to the nonprofit arts organization Arts Alive Chicago. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet and the Russian historical novel Infraction.